As the 2023 NFL season approaches, let's explore my three favorite team win totals in no particular order. Specifically, we will focus on the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, and Las Vegas Raiders. Each team presents a unique situation, offering opportunities for both underperformance and overperformance. In this article, we will dive into the details to understand why these teams might exceed or fall short of their projected win totals. Let's get the party started!
Houston Texans Under 6.5 (-130)
The Houston Texans have had a tumultuous few seasons, with numerous challenges on and off the field. The departure of notable players and ongoing organizational issues have left the team in a rebuilding phase. While they may show signs of improvement, it is unlikely that they will surpass their projected win total of 6.5. The Texans' roster needs more depth and star power in pivotal positions.
Their quarterback situation is still being determined, with no proven leader under center. C.J. Stroud excelled in College against inferior Big Ten opponents. He will struggle against NFL defenses that are much faster than College kids. The Texans' offensive line is ranked No. 25, and their defensive line is ranked No. 23 by PFF heading into the 2023 season. Not a good combo!
Additionally, their defense struggled last season, ranking near the bottom of the league in several categories. The Texans will likely struggle to reach even six wins with a challenging schedule ahead. I'm projecting the Texans to win just under five games, leaving plenty of wiggle room. The Texans are not a 7-win team in 2023!
Detroit Lions Over 9.5 (-122)
The Detroit Lions present an intriguing case for exceeding expectations in the 2023 season. Under second-year head coach Dan Campbell, the team showed grit by winning 8 of their last ten games after starting the season with a 1-6 record. The Lions have reason to be optimistic with an improved coaching staff, fresh talent infusion through the draft, and another year in the same system.
Offensively, they have bolstered their receiving corps and added depth to their backfield. Quarterback Jared Goff had a terrific year for the Lions in 2022, throwing for 4,438 yards and a 29/7 TD/INT ratio while completing 65.1% of his passes. He ranked No. 5 in QBR (61.1), the second-best mark of his career. The Lions will enter this season with the fifth-best offensive line at PFF. Defensively, the Lions have significantly upgraded their secondary, which should improve their overall performance. Edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson had a monster rookie season registering 52 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries over 17 games in 2022.
Furthermore, the Lions' schedule appears favorable, with several winnable matchups against teams that struggled last season. If the team can build upon their newfound energy and execute their game plan effectively, exceeding the projected win total of 9.5 seems within reach. Do note that the Lions only play one cold-weather game all season (Dec. 10th @ Bears) and should benefit from playing in 12 dome games. I'm counting AT&T (Dallas) as an indoor stadium. I have the Lions winning 11 games this upcoming season!
Las Vegas Raiders Under 7.5 (-170)
Lastly, we will analyze factors that could cause the Las Vegas Raiders to fall short of their 2023 win total of 7.5. Although coaching changes can bring new energy and strategies, they can also disrupt team chemistry and cohesion. On the bright side, the Raiders' entire coaching staff will return for their second consecutive season. This transitional phase could impact their performance in a highly competitive NFL landscape. The bad news is that Josh McDaniels is 17-28 straight-up in the regular season as a head coach in his NFL career.
The Las Vegas Raiders have a solid core of players, but concerns about the depth and overall quality at key positions still need to be addressed. The lack of consistent playmakers on defense could hamper their ability to secure crucial wins against formidable opponents. The Raiders' receiver room is set to become even more potent with the addition of free-agent Jakobi Meyers. Alongside Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, this trio will create a solid and formidable receiving corps for the team. Although Darren Waller was traded to the Giants, the Raiders have found a replacement in Michael Mayer from Notre Dame. Mayer is considered one of the top tight ends in the 2023 draft class. Additionally, Auston Hooper, a third-year veteran for the Raiders, has improved both his receptions and receiving yards during his first two seasons. It will be Auston's first year with the Raiders.
The Raiders' roster features some glaring weaknesses. Their offensive line, once a source of pride, has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Key players from previous seasons have departed or aged past their prime, impacting overall talent and performance. According to PFF, they will enter the 2023 season with a slightly below-average O-line ranking of No. 19. Last season, the offense was good, ranked No. 7 in yards per play (5.7); however, they ranked No. 27 in opponent yards per play (5.8). Having negative net yards per play doesn't seem like a recipe for success. The Raiders were ranked No. 13 in points per game (23.2) but ranked No. 26 in points allowed (24.6).
Jimmy Garoppolo's addition to the team may alter offensive strategy. His career average air yards per attempt is 7.22, compared to Derek Carr's 9.13 average air yards per attempt last season. Garoppolo's career throws exceeding 20 yards down the field only account for 8.5%, while Carr had a higher percentage of 11.4% last season. These differences in throwing styles suggest that Garoppolo's presence may change the team'steam's approach. The Raiders plan to run the ball more often to shorten the game clock and provide defense protection. Safeguarding Garoppolo from a significant injury is paramount, as he has a history of missing considerable time in his career.
Davante Adams' usage significantly changed in his first season with the Raiders. Previously, during his final two seasons with the Packers, he averaged less than ten air yards per target. However, in 2022, his average increased to 11.8 air yards per target. Furthermore, it is worth noting that Adams was frequently targeted ten yards or more down the field in 45% of his total targets last season. This represents a significant increase compared to his average rate of 36.3% during his time in Green Bay. Having A QB that doesn’t desire to throw the ball downfield seems like a misuse of Adams’ skill set.
Positive things are happening in Las Vegas, despite negative perceptions. It’s not all doom and gloom in Sin City. The Raiders have a robust edge-rushing trio consisting of Maxx Crosby, Chandler Jones, and Tyree Wilson. Even though Jones may not be performing as well as before, Las Vegas can still expect to have an intense pass rush due to the development of Wilson. This means the team can rely on their ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks and disrupt their passing game. Their subpar secondary and linebacker positions have hindered the Raiders' performance, proving problematic for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham's strategy. The team is in dire need of additional players to effectively execute their scheme. If the Raiders fail to acquire a top-notch cornerback, their secondary will persist as one of the weakest in the NFL.
The difficulty of their schedule significantly impacts the success or failure of a team. Unfortunately, the Raiders have a daunting 2023 schedule with multiple matchups against playoff-caliber teams from previous seasons. Based on various metrics, the Raiders will have the second most challenging schedule among all the teams in the NFL. Facing formidable opponents week after week can wear down even the most talented rosters and make achieving their win total a challenging task. This is not an 8-win team, and things could go sideways quickly in the competitive AFC West.
The 2023-24 NFL season will be here before you know it. It's now time to start thinking about what handicapper or service you will be investing in. Here are my documented NFL records for the regular season and playoffs since 2008. As you can see, just three non-winning seasons which happened to be in 2010, 2011, and 2021. We had a great bounce back NFL campaign last season! You can view my past records at The Sports Monitor of OK for verification. Jeff is a 7x Top 10 NFL handicapper!
2022 Regular Season: 17-6 (+$4019) 2022 Playoffs: 2-2 ($310)
2021 Regular Season: 12-16-1 (-$2670) 2021 Playoffs: 2-1 (+$910)
2020 Regular Season: 13-6-1 (+$4124) 2020 Playoffs: 3-0 (+$1,320)
2019 Regular Season: 18-11 (+$2841) 2019 Playoffs: 1-1-1 (-$40)
2018 Regular Season: 23-13-1 (+$5599) 2018 Playoffs: 2-2 (+$595)
2017 Regular Season: 25-15-1 (+$2599) 2017 Playoffs: 4-0-1 (+$1900)
2016 Regular Season: 21-12-1 (+3040) 2016 Playoffs: 2-1 (+$465)
2015 Regular Season: 23-24 (+$370) 2015 Playoffs: 3-1 (+$1100)
2014 Regular Season: 27-12 (+$5500) 2014 Playoffs: 4-1 (+$1250)
2013 Regular Season: 21-16 (+$1080) 2013 Playoffs: 3-2 (+$1100)
2012 Regular Season: 27-22 (+$860) 2012 Playoffs: 4-4 (-$200)
2011 Regular Season: 20-20 (-$240) 2011 Playoffs: 3-4 (-$680)
2010 Regular Season: 28-24 (+$1600) 2010 Playoffs: 2-6 (-$1970)
2009 Regular Season: 33-27 (+$3170) 2009 Playoffs: 6-3 (+$1850)
2008 Regular Season: 33-23 (+$5720) 2008 Playoffs: 6-2 (+$1650)
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